Insulin, Blood Sugar and Counting Carbs...Oh My!
I think a majority of people can say they know what Diabetes is and the basics of needing insulin to help control your blood sugar. Kind of like CF, I take enzymes when I eat, but with Diabetes you need insulin. Easy enough, right?
Hell no. I'm an idiot for thinking that. Diabetes is no joke and it's not for the weak! I knew I didn't ever want to be diagnosed with diabetes because I certainly do not want to be limited on my candy intake (I think my body is about 75% candy). But all joking aside, it's so much more than I ever knew. Being that CFRD (Cystic Fibrosis Related Diabetes) occurs in 40-50% of adults with CF, I have a whole new appreciation for not having it!!
My nephew was recently diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, at age 5. And let me be the first to tell you that this little dude is a rock star. He hasn't let it slow him down and I am BEYOND proud of him. Just when I thought I couldn't love the little guy any more, he shows me that he is so brave and can roll with the punches.
I went up for a visit a couple weeks ago and I basically got Diabetes 101 and Diabetes for Dummies all in one visit. OMG. You need a calculator when you eat! You have to read every label. If it doesn't have a label, you have to rely on google to tell you what you need to know. I mean, how did we function before smart phones?
Each meal the steps are:
1) Check blood sugar
2) Count grams of carbs to be consumed at the meal (you need to measure and/or weigh the food....even little things like how much ketchup you dip your fries in!!!!)
3) Do a fancy mathematical equation based on the blood sugar results, desired blood sugar and carbs to determine how much insulin is needed
4) Then the insulin injection
Try that one day. Measure how much you consume and calculate the carbs. It's time consuming!! What you think is a tablespoon is probably wrong!
He's still in the early stages of diagnosis, so things are probably a bit more complicated now versus in a few months/years when it's not all new. But right now, every part of the day has changed. He'll get one of those glucose monitors you wear all the time to save his little fingers from all the poking. And eventually an insulin pump will help too. But before all that gets started, it's the finger pricking before meals and bed, shots at meals and bed too.
Hungry between meals, a low carb snack is fine. You want a granola bar? Guess what, that's probably going to require shot! I was a label reading machine - so afraid I would over carb my little buddy while I was babysitting. Thankfully, we did good!!
I have a much better understanding of Diabetes, and still have a lot to learn. I want to be sure to know the ins and outs so I can be sure I'm prepared when I'm with my nephew.
It was definitely a diagnosis you don't want to hear. The consequences of your blood sugar getting too low or too high are scary. But, it's manageable. Just like with CF, you have to take care of yourself. Do what you have to do for YOUR body.
On my visit, I was on my Cayston cycle, so I made sure he saw me do my treatments. I showed him all the pills I had to take when I ate. I wanted him to know that he's not the only one that has to do things a bit different than the rest. I want him to know it's OK to take medicine to make your body work better. It's OK to be different (personally, I think its even cooler to be different). Diabetes will not define who he is. Its just a part of his totally awesome package.
If anyone has any resources you think would be beneficial for me to share with my brother and sister-in-law, please comment below and I'll pass it on!
**Do not take any of the above as medical advice!**